In an interview with the Hill published Monday, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, clarified that the party will not withhold funds from candidates who oppose abortion, saying “there is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates.”
Luján discussed this as a part of the larger big-tent strategy for Democrats going into the 2018 midterm elections.
“To pick up 24 [seats] and get to 218, that is the job. We’ll need a broad coalition to get that done,” Luján said. “We are going to need all of that, we have to be a big family in order to win the House back.”
These comments ran in contrast to a statement from DNC Chair Tom Perez in April, reported by the Huffington Post, where he said of a woman’s right to choose, “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”
The Hill reported that Democratic aides informed them at the time that Perez did not intend to create a litmus test.
As Vox’s Jeff Stein reported last week, the Democrats’ newest policy push is decidedly economic in nature, focusing on corporate power, prescription drug prices, and job growth.
However, this push toward policies that unify rather than divide the party might leave some activists with a bitter taste in their mouth as other policies — like abortion rights — are ignored.
In May, Vox published a first person essay from Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who characterized the move at the time by Democrats to support anti-abortion candidates as women “being thrown under the bus” by the party.
Hogue argued that it isn’t clear that abortion was a driving force for Trump’s election and it isn’t clear that supporting candidates who opposed abortion will benefit Democrats in the midterm elections:
So here we are. The Democratic Party faces fundamental questions of morality and political identity which it both needs to solve immediately and must move beyond almost simultaneously. It’s one of the greatest tests of our two-party system: unite a movement of people faster than the repressive churn of an authoritarian administration.
It appears as though party leaders are willing to anger abortion rights groups in order to take back the House in 2018.